Atli Jonsson, son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend and work mate.
Atli left us on February 23rd, 2021, I am sure he’s riding bikes with Dad in heaven.
Atli was always learning. Life was his school and his classroom was wherever he was that day.
He had a burning curiosity to know “why”. And the question was mostly about people. Why people said and did what they did.
One day Atli and Heida were walking to the corner store, ages 12 and 13, to get milk. Two boys approached and Heida heard a derogatory word aimed at her brother. As usual, he taps her leg and asked “was it mean Hedda”! Heida started to explain that it’s too bad some people have nothing better to do, when Heida realized Atli was no longer beside her. No, he had that boy by the shoulders, pinned up against the new fence, asking “Why-you-say-that-to-me.” The boy offered to shake hands. Atli obliged. The boy got his freedom and ran. The point of this story is that Atli was not seeking retaliation, rather he learned by the boy’s behaviour that he was not being treated nicely. Atli was always learning.
After that boy ran to rejoin his buddy, Atli turned to Heida and asked “you happy?,” as he was always concerned with other peoples’ happiness.
Atli’s early years heralded the beginning of services to people with special needs.
As a young adult, Atli took part in Special Olympics when it first started in the Valley. He competed in cross country skiing and did well. He later said that he liked downhill better, which he excelled at! Atli skied Sunshine and Banff, where he jumped moguls like a pro. In 1992, Atli joined the Special Olympic Floor Hockey Team. They travelled to PEI to compete and brought home a medal (Marcel Nabess was goalie).
Summers were spent living at the family cottage at Madge lake. Sometimes before school let out! The family would go to Kamsack for laundry and once to Swan River at Rodeo time. Otherwise he spent a lot of time by the lake shore and enjoyed the warmth of the wood stove going at night. Atli loved to play with his hot wheel cars in the roots of the trees that grew along the lakeshore.
Atli worked for Swan River Scrap Metal for 20 years and enjoyed all that it entailed; loading and travelling across provinces and unloading. He retired at the age of 31.
Atli lived in several group homes as he matured. He would walk to the sheltered workshop in town. It was not uncommon for him to take a longer than usual time to get to his place of work. That was usually due to his habitual stops to give morning greetings to business owners.
Atli enjoyed riding his bicycle. After much effort he learned to ride, and one day he just took off. It gave him such freedom. He also enjoyed taking part in family meals, setting the table and doing the clean up.
He also had a keen sense of humour which we will all truly miss.
Atli really enjoyed horseback riding and “Ajax” was his regular mount down at Madge Lake Stables. Ajax would nicker when he heard Atli’s voice. They were a good pair. Ajax would throw other mounts, but he loved Atli.
A major part of Atli’s life was the summers we rode our bikes to Kooistra’s farm on a daily basis. Atli loved everything about the farm; the calves, picking eggs and especially stooking bales; he could throw a bale right over the front of the tractor until he leaned to monitor his strength.
Atli is survived by his mother Iris; brother Nonni (Fay), and children Kristjana, Mark; brother Gerry (Cheryl), and children Saerd and Meagan and son Jacob; sister Heida, her children Lisa (Jason) and grandson Avery; sisters Geirlaug and Gudrun in Iceland and their children and grandchildren, and many cousins in Iceland and the States.
Atli was predeceased by his father Dr. Bjorn Jonsson.
The family wishes to express their utmost gratitude for the professional and loving care that Atli received at the Swan River Valley Lodge.
Atli made many friends at the lodge.
Honorary pallbearers are Mark Jonsson, Kris Jonsson, Marcel Nabiss, Larry Kooistra, George Church and Brenda Semeniuk
Donations may be made in Atli’s honour to ACL, Special Olympics and SMD (Society for Manitobans with Disabilities)
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